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Management Lessons from Mahabharata: Part2

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यदा यदा हि धर्मस्य ग्लानिर्भवति भारत ।
अभ्युत्थानमधर्मस्य तदात्मानं सृजाम्यहम् ॥४-७॥

“परित्राणाय साधूनां विनाशाय च दुष्कृताम् ।
धर्मसंस्थापनार्थाय सम्भवामि युगे युगे ॥४-८॥

You may all Google these lines for a literal translation, but the crux is that Krishna says that whenever there will be “Adharma”, he will take birth throughout the ages to protect it.

That to me is beyond cool!  I mean,  imagine, he  might be walking amongst us, waiting in the side lines, just biding his time for the right time to come to  unleash his power and kill the bad guys.

We would all relish that, wouldn’t we ?

Any-way, it is pre-ordained that Vishnu will be reincarnated as “Kalki” in Kaliyuga. (Per Hinduism, there are 4 ages, Sat Yuga, Treta Yuga, Dwapar Yuga and the Kali Yuga. These are basically periods of time and define the progressive moral deterioration of the human race) Kalki is defined as a destructive force, who will wield his sword and kill the wicked plunderers that would have wrecked the earth till then. Kalki will appear in a time, when people will have very less or zero understanding of logic and  would be prone to violence of actions.

Kalki will not reason with people of a bad moral character, he will just kill them.

I read an article on the internet, where Donald Trump  was compared to Kalki, since Donald Trump , just like Kalki is also a violent force that redefines new ideas  and compels us to look at things in an entirely new light. Many of you will frown on this idea, but indeed, it/he can’t be ignored.

However, we all know the Donald Trump can’t be the  Kalki Avatar since  the  Kalki avatar is already amongst us. We all know who he is.

He is the current Chief Minister of Delhi.

I am kidding, obviously. 😉

I will now pick up the thread from where left it in my last write-up and bring to you some noteworthy characters in the epic. The first and foremost in my list is Karna.  For the readers who missed  reading that article, please click  here

Karna :- Karna was the eldest son of Kunti. How he was born makes  for  a very interesting and poignant story. Kunti had got a boon from Sage Durvasa, since she impressed him with her devotion to her.

That boon allowed Kunti to invoke any god to bear her a child.  Kunti wanted to test the efficacy of this boon and chanted the mantras given to her by Sage Durvasa.

To her utter surprise, the boon worked and the Sun god blessed her with a healthy baby boy. Since societal norms dictated that a son could not be born out of wedlock, Kunti put the baby  in a basket and set it afloat in the river to its fate. (The baby was Karna and was raised as a Sut putra,the son of a charioteer)

Growing up, Karna faced rejection from all quarters.

1)  Guru Dronacharya rejected him, even when he was a better student(IMHO) than Arjuna.

2) When the Kauravas and the Pandavas debuted in the Rangbhoomi to show their skills(The ones which they picked from Drona), Karna was not allowed to show case his talent.

3) Draupadi refused his hand in marriage, due to his so called low birth. (Many of you would not know, but Karna was rejected immediately after this, again, by a princess, again, due to his low birth)

Finally, since Krishna knew that Arjuna will not be able to defeat Karna in a straight forward battle, he resorted to tricks to kill him.

I personally respect Karna, because he was unfazed, inspite of the obstacles in his life. However, he got back at lady luck  – History has been very kind to Karna. We all remember Karna not for his failures, but for his big heart (Daan Shoor) and his unparalled valour.  Also, he got back at Arjun. Arjuna died before going to heaven – the reason was that Arjuna was arrogant and always looked down on Karna.

Management Moral: – We all complain that our peers have gone ahead of us in their respective careers.  My suggestion is to have a look around- for every one person who has “gone” ahead, there are at-least 10 people who are not.

Ask yourself, are you giving more than 100% at your work? We often tend to develop a comfort zone around us. Nothing bad in having a comfort zone, but an over dose of it only makes you sluggish and rust starts to creep in.

Are you sure that you are at the cutting edge of skill sets necessary to survive in this big, bad corporate world? Today in the times of Digitalization, it becomes necessary to always up-skill yourself or risk becoming obsolete.

We all know life sucks. Grin it and bear it! Maintain a positive attitude,(Easier said than done, of course!) and if you can’t, then too bad, since  you will only end up blaming others for your failure and nothing else. (Which you will deserve anyway)

Do not forget to be gracious. Have you thanked anyone lately? Saying thank you will not put a hole in your body, but maybe, it will just help you earn some good will.  Karna was gracious towards Duryodhana his whole life for his friendship and was always ready to sacrifice his life for Duryodhana.

I would like to conclude that just like Karna, do not let the fire  in you  be extinguished – we have an expiry date on this earth, so till the time we are here, let’s try to make it count.

Shakuni :- Shakuni was the evil, scheming uncle of Duryodhana, who wanted his nephew to be at the helm of affairs in Hastinapur and kept on devising tricks to achieve that end.

He was a master at manipulating the game of dice in his favour. He first built a palace of lacquer to burn down the Pandavas and then invited them to a game of Dyut,(Gambling with loaded dice) defeated them and thus ensured that they had to go to take Agyaat Waas[Incognito] in the forest.

The only positive thing about him, was his love for his sister, Gandhari and his affection for Duryodhana.

(Trivia: – Somewhere in Kerala, people have built a temple out of respect for Shakuni. Priceless, right? Here   is the link to the article )

Management Moral: The world is a stage and we are all actors, so said Shakespeare. My twisted take on this is, the whole world is like  Shakuni and we are its dice, ready to be manipulated.

There are lots of Shakuni’s around us who are conspiring, plotting and want our downfall. (I have had my fair share of them, too :-))

Beware of them.

The point I am trying to make is, Shakuni, all the time under the garb of a “well-wisher of his nephew”, pushed his own agenda. Is some-one doing the same to you?

Keep your eyes and mind open – all the time. Some-one is manipulating you at work or someplace else.

Sahdeva killed Shakuni on the 18th day of the Kurukshetra war – but you may not be so fortunatein finding your Sahdeva 😉

Arjuna :- What can I say about him, that you already wouldn’t know? Arjuna is “Parth”, the one who never wavers from his target. He is the favourite disciple of Guru Drona & the favourite cousin of Krishna. He won Draupadi’s hand in marriage by shooting an arrow in the fish’s eye.(You all know the story)

However, he exhibits weakness in a crucial moment – in the Kurukshetra war. Upon seeing all his relatives assemble in the battle field, he drops his weapons and asks Lord Krishna on the futility of the war. It is only on Lord Krishna’s egging that he takes his weapons and fights.

Wrong moment to show empathy.

Management Moral:– Do I have to tell this one? Just like Arjuna, try and keep a sight on your target. There will be overwhelming troubles, but staying focused will help you in the long run. We also have our fair share of weak moments, but having the courage to face them and overcome them, will define whether you are the Arjuna you would like to be or not.

Yudhishthira  & Duryodhana:- Yudhishthira  & Duryodhana are the opposite sides of one coin. While one is the personification of Dharma, the other is the exact opposite. Yudhishthira is known as the voice of justice, while Duryodhana is the symbol of injustice.  You get the drift here.

These two make up for a very interesting study due to the fact that you will not find an exact Yudhishthira and an exact Duryodhana in  life.  These two are just symbols – of what to be and what not to be.  What is more interesting is there are gray areas in both.  Yudhishthira had an addiction to gambling and Duryodhana was a fair and square fighter and was alos known as a fair ruler.

At a crucial moment in the Kurukshetra war, when Guru Drona asks him if Ashwatthama was killed, he says, “Aswatthama hatha iti Narova Kunjarova” Ashwatthama is dead, I do not know if he is man or elephant.  Drona on hearing this, gives up all his will to fight and leaves for the heavens. Imagine, the man, who is a paragon of virtue, stating a half-lie ( or truth, if you will) to win the war.

When all the Kauravas are dead, Krishna asks Duryodhana that he could pick any of the Pandavas to a fight, he could have selected any one – but he selects Bheema, since only Bheema could equal him in a mace fight. Duryodhana is also killed by treachery. During the fight on seeing that Bheema was getting tired, Krishna signals him to hit below the waist. Bheema takes his cue and hits him on his legs and breaks them.  What an unfair end!

 

Mahabharata is not a “Management Theory 101” book which will consist of  theory elements. It is in fact a  practical study in human nature. It demonstrates to us that Human Nature will be the same, wherever it might be. It is not a “Moral Science” book, it has its own fair share of contradictions, too.

For Example,

How come Yudhishthira, who is portrayed as a pious and virtuous man, gamble away Draupadi inspite of he himself losing in the game of dice? He did not have any right to do so.

How come Krishna, who is the Lord Incarnate himself, is also as cunning as Shakuni?

How come Arjuna, the one who never loses sight of his target, loses it in the battle field?

How come Arjuna is allowed to  objectify Draupadi, his own wife, when he tells his mother that he brought her as “Bhiksha” or alms?

Was Drona really justified in asking for Eklavya’s finger as Guru Dakshina?

If an oath to protect the throne means  siding with Adharma, is it worth it?  (In Case of Bheeshma)

We will never know, possibly. But the trick does not lie in getting an answer  to these question, but rather in the fact that the Mahabharata is like a mirror and it reflects human nature  – it is upto us to pick the appropriate reflection as applicable.

I will conclude with the following Sanskrit verse ,

कर्मण्ये वाधिकारस्ते म फलेषु कदाचना

कर्मफलेह्तुर भुरमा ते संगोस्त्वकर्मानी

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About the author

Aniket is a Business Consultant by profession - however his love of books led him to this website, where he posts book reviews and also gets together with new Indian Authors. He can be reached on aniketsitm@gmail.com.

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